Turn 2 Blog: Winners and Losers Among the Recent Driver Moves

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*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the dirt racing topics of the day from east Tennessee and beyond.

Richard: As we have documented here, the “silly season” during the 2018-19 off-season has been a very active one. And as is the case whenever moves are made, there will be winners and losers and there were also a few surprises.

It’s the job of folks like you and I to evaluate those moves to determine who we think we indeed think the winners and losers will be. Further, we can point out the moves that caught us off guard.

I think I’ll start with a surprise in the form of some news that didn’t come to be. If you look back at posts on social media and message boards from a couple of months ago it was considered a virtual certainty that Tim McCreadie would find himself in a new situation come 2019. His Sweeteners Plus team had some well documented struggles throughout the past season in terms of their hauler and otherwise. At the same time, they were very competitive, particularly late in the season and even won the prestigious World 100.

Still, many predicted that the Watertown, NY driver would land with a new team as his name was tossed around in discussions related to Dunn Benson Motorsports, Best Performance Motorsports and others. Yet, he didn’t move and that was a bit surprising to me.

What, if anything, caught you off guard in all of this maneuvering?

Some were surprised by the news regarding Tim McCreadie(39) and the Best Motorsports team

Michael: There were two that caught me off guard in addition to the McCreadie story.

One, is the move of Mike Marlar to the K&L Rumley team. Everyone knew Marlar would be in a new ride, but very few people thought he’d be teaming up with the Rumleys with engineer Kevin Rumley parting ways with Jonathan Davenport. That move had multiple impacts.

The other is the news Best Motorsports would continue to field a car for a national tour and Tyler Erb was tabbed as the driver. It had been rumored Best would cut back to a regional operation. Not only was that rumor not true, but they signed the Texan to be their driver. I think that move has surprised a lot of people.

Richard: Looking back on everything that has transpired, just about the only move that wasn’t surprising to me was that of Josh Richards and Rocket Chassis going to Clint Bowyer Racing. That one had been out there for a couple of months and it was only a matter of waiting for the official announcement to confirm it.

Aside from those already mentioned, I was also a bit surprised to hear that Brandon Overton would be teaming up with Joey Coulter’s race team. Overton has clearly shown that he is a great talent over the past couple of seasons, but as we all know, it comes down to funding. Coulter just happened to be in a situation in which he would have to scale back his own racing racing efforts due to a job commitment for his wife that caused their family to move.

Further, Devin Moran will now head to Dunn Benson Motorsports as their full-time pilot on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series after Bobby Pierce and DBM parted ways. Seemingly, about half of the drivers in the Dirt Late Model world had been rumored to be heading in that direction but the talented second generation racer was eventually selected by the North Carolina based organization.

Of all these moves, which of them do you see as being most likely to achieve success?

Michael: Out of the ones mentioned, I expect Overton teaming with Coulter to be the most successful. Overton is a young, talented driver and the Coulter team has good backing.

I’m curious to see how the Richards to Bowyer team pans out. Richards is one of the best in the business. For whatever reason, it seems as though the Bowyer operation doesn’t get a lot of success considering the drivers to have driven for them. If the team can’t win and contend with Richards as their driver, they need to re-evaluate some of the things they are doing. But I suspect they won’t have those problems this year.

Bobby Pierce will be back with his family’s team in 2019

Richard: Like you, I am very intrigued by the Overton-Coulter pairing. It will be interesting to see how they do early in the year and what, if any, series they decide to run. I can foresee a number of race wins coming out of this newly formed team.

Another thing that we haven’t mentioned yet that I believe will prove to be successful is Bobby Pierce’s reunification with his family’s team. I don’t know that they will choose to run a national schedule as funding will no doubt decide that. But I do expect them to win races. After all, the ‘Smooth Operator’ virtually owned the Summer Nationals tour so if they decide to remain a regional effort it would seem likely that they can return to that type of success.

I’m not going to say that any of these new situations are going to be losers but I do think there are some of these deals that are going to have such high expectations placed on them that fans may perceive them to not be a great deal even if they are winning races.

The Richards-Bowyer team is one of those. Even if they win 8-10 races there are going to be some who will insist that they should win more and will claim that a team with an “unlimited budget”(which is not true) ought to win every time out. And more, there are some fans who just don’t like Richards and/or someone with close ties to NASCAR and will not give them credit for their success.

Another possible situation that could find itself in the boat of having expectations placed on them that are too high and unrealistic could be the Marlar-Rumley deal. Some are going to think that the team should have another 2015 like they did with Jonathan Davenport or else they have failed.

I believe that Richards and Marlar are going to win races this year. The question is, will they win enough to please the masses?

What are your thoughts on any of this?

Michael: Anyone that thinks the team with the most money would win most of the races they race in are just misguided when it comes to the sport. There are too many factors and too many other good teams that make it hard to win and be dominant. A season like what Jonathan Davenport had in 2015 just doesn’t come around all that often.

Pierce’s schedule is one that will intrigue a lot of people. Back to my earlier point, Pierce had to be in the best situation he’s been in as far as backing since he’s been racing. But he also raced against tougher competition. I have no doubt he’ll be back in something more comfortable to him and that could translate into a lot of wins on the regional and national level.

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